the project  – a summary:

trickpony is a research and creation project dedicated to exploring the development process- from inspiration to composition to rehearsal to performance- of eight new works for solo voice.

about me:

I’m Sarah.

I’m a singer/actor/performer living, working and studying in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. My main focus is contemporary theatrical vocal music, although I work regularly in a variety of forms and enjoy exploring and experimenting with many ways of using my voice.

I gave my first public singing performance at the age of 2 in a resteraunt in my hometown of Windsor, Ontario where, to the shock and embarrassment of my parents, I leapt onto my chair without warning, waving my arms and enthusiastically wishing the other diners a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”  I went on to play the bafflingly unpopular character of “Spinach” in a school play about vegetables, received with a generous chorus of jeers from my gracious gymnasium floor audience.

Eventually, I graduated from Concordia University with two consecutive BFA degrees in Voice Performance and Theatre. While at Concordia, I had the freedom to study and experiment with many genres, from classical vocal music to  electroacoustic composition, sound design, acting, contemporary chamber ensembles, performance art and alternative theatre practices.

It was in the theatre realm that I really caught the collaboration bug — I found that the sense of ensemble in a group working on theatre projects was so much stronger than anything I had experienced anywhere else. Equipped with some very positive experiences, a bag of devising techniques and a thirst for adventure, I decided to attempt bringing that energy and focus into music.

In the past few years, I’ve had the great honour of performing all over Canada– in festivals such as Cluster New Music and Integrated Arts Festival (Winnipeg), the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the Montreal Nouvelles Musiques festival, Pop Montreal, Suoni Per il Popolo, Vocalypse productions/Opera from Scratch in Halifax, and studying and singing Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Studying voice privately and performing as much as possible as a soloist and with various ensembles, I am continuing to learn and expand my practice.


the segue:

One of the best ways to get extra experience performing in University was to offer to sing pieces written by student composers. I really enjoyed this process and was quite happy to be able to give some creative input in the development of the pieces. I was reminded of some of my experiences in theatre and also my teenage years, spent in partially in choir and piano lessons but also in basement bands and hanging out at local all-ages shows. Being directly involved in the creation and development of new work is very rewarding for me, but it can also be difficult and confusing. How can I do more of this? I asked myself. And how can  I get better at it? Is there a specific way to go about this from the beginning, or is it really different depending on who I’m working with? I could talk to people who have done a lot of work with composers. I could read a book about it (and there are some very good resources out there). Great. I can do both of those things. However, not one for pure theoretical explanations, I decided to learn the only way I ever have – by doing!

more about the project:

I asked eight wonderful, talented composers (click on the word to read about them) to each write a piece for me, all to be written, learned, performed and recorded within the span of a year. The project will include performances of excerpts and full pieces in different settings throughout the year, and will culminate in performances of the full cycle and the production and release of a studio album.

Because I’m interested in non-traditional (that is to say, non classical) uses of the voice, I am asking the composers to incorporate extended techniques into their pieces. I will most certainly have to learn some new techniques to be able to perform these new works, which can only be a good thing — especially since extended techniques are very common in contemporary vocal music.

I like writing, and survived a brief stint in Journalism school between the ages of 18 and 19, inspired on this severed path by an obsession with the Gonzo style. I also want to remember everything that happens throughout the process. I also want to share my experiences. I also realize that it’s probably a good idea to have some sort of online presence in this day and age. So I present to you: a blog! I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride as I explore my voice, my brain, my composers’ brains and the vast landscape of influential material that’s already been created in this vein. Giddy-up!


The realization of this project is possible through support from Emploi Quebec‘s Jeunes Volontaires program and with guidance from my project mentor, Montreal singer and sound artist Kathy Kennedy.